Warsaw is not the most thrilling location one can imagine for a conference in the middle of winter. Am I exaggerating to make a point? I think not. Indeed, one might more accurately say: 'Warsaw is the least thrilling location one can imagine for a conference ...' That would be more honest, but some of my best friends are Poles - they really are.
Some of my best builders are, too. As I left the house for my flight I had to climb over a Polish bricklayer, who is repairing our front steps (The weird thing about Polish builders is that they actually turn up at 8am if they say they will - solid proof that east Europeans do not acclimatise culturally in the UK.) 'I'm off to Warsaw,' I said cheerfully, to make him feel at home. 'Aah,' he said somewhat cautiously, 'was there in 1980s, was - how you say - sniper in Polish army,' levelling a trowel-shaped rifle menacingly at my forehead, 'have nice time.'
I did not have 'nice time' in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sense and indeed had rather a nasty time getting there. BA cancelled its flight with one of those circular explanations it specialises in - 'inbound plane did not arrive' - and handed out tickets for a convenient quick connection via Prague. But I didn't get one. I wonder quite what the point of a gold card is in these circumstances.